By Katy Shenk
Outgoing Web and Social Media Editor
I don’t know exactly what made me determined to start writing for The Elm my freshman year. I didn’t write for my high school newspaper, I wasn’t a news junkie, I just had a feeling that writing about the goings-on of campus would be one of the best ways to understand the community I was joining.
Surprise, my instinct was right. Even though—like my fellow senior editors—I haven’t been able to physically work or meet in the Pub House for over a year, working for The Elm has kept me connected to the Washington College community even from a distance.
Although I haven’t penned an article in quite some time, I certainly credit my growth as a writer, especially becoming a faster, more succinct writer, to working on Elm articles. While I started as a News writer, I helped out the short-staffed Student Life section one week and never looked back.
Becoming an editor was never really on my radar until former Student Life editor Jack Despeaux ’18 recommended me for the position. That same semester, I was working on a history paper that involved a deep dive into The Elm’s digital archives. I saw first-hand how The Elm has—and continues to be—a vital chronicler of student life, and so I took the chance to play my part in shaping the first draft of College history.
Being Student Life editor was exhausting, frustrating, and incredibly rewarding. It felt like I was constantly thinking about next week’s story pitches, emailing sources and staff writers, or brainstorming my InDesign layout. I started out wondering how I would possibly fill my section each week and ended up struggling to decide what to cut from each issue.
I’d like to thank my cohort of staff writers—Nicole Noce, Carlee Berkenkemper, Olivia Montes, and Julia Clifton—for being eager and dedicated writers and answering my many, many, emails.
I’d also be remiss without thanking my boyfriend, Willie, for sleuthing on Instagram to help me fill in photo captions, the dedicated readers of Harford 3A, and anyone who complained about some aspect of Washington College and heard me respond, “Write a letter to the editor about it” (and to Michael Hershey, who actually did).
In looking to shift my focus to other priorities, I stepped down from my editor position and was prepared to return as a writer, until former Editor-in-Chief Abby Wargo ’20 stopped me as I was walking out of the Pub House and asked, “Do you have any interest in being Web Editor?”
I knew I wanted to stay involved with The Elm, so I said, “Sure.” To be honest, I’m not sure the web edition of The Elmhas ever received as much attention as the print issue, but that all changed last March when, suddenly, The Elm could only be published online.
After a stressful week of technical troubleshooting, I configured everything on my laptop and have been publishing The Elm remotely for some time. Yes, I do miss my giant desktop in the Pub House, but it’s worked so far, with additional credit to William Hill from OIT and Editor-in-Chief MacKenzie Brady for their responsiveness.
I’m eternally grateful to my Elm family, past and present, who have worked tirelessly to serve as a channel of communication between staff, administration, students, and the surrounding community.
In parting, I wouldn’t be doing my job as Web and Social Media editor if I didn’t make one final plug for our social media channels: Instagram/Facebook (@theelmwc) and Twitter (@TheElmNews). Follow, like, read, and stay informed, because I firmly believe The Elm can help make Washington College a better place.
Featured Photo caption: The Elm’s Web and Social Media Editor, senior Katy Shenk, gives her parting words before graduating from WC. Photo Courtesy of Katy Shenk.